It’s Good Friday. I can think of nothing more fitting than reading to the words of Isaiah who lived about 700 years before Jesus. I’m captivated by the paraphrase of The Message, “Who would have thought God’s saving power would like this?” God’s plan is divinely witty. Who would send the Holy to die for the mundane? Someone who is totally in love, that’s Who!
As you ponder Christ’s death, remember, YOU are the joy He was pursuing.
Isaiah 53 (MSG)*
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought He brought it on Himself, that God was punishing Him for His own failures. But it was our sins that did that to Him, that ripped and tore and crushed Him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through His bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on Him, on Him.
He was beaten, He was tortured, but He didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and He was led off—and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for His own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried Him with the wicked, threw Him in a grave with a rich man, Even though He’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush Him with pain. The plan was that He give himself as an offering for sin so that He’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul, He’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as He Himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward Him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because He looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because He embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, He took up the cause of all the black sheep.
John 19 (NLT)**
Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring Him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find Him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
When they saw Him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take Him yourselves and crucify Him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because He called Himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquartersagain and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over Me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Then Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dicefor it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to His lips. When Jesus had tasted it, He said, “It is finished!” Then He bowed his head and released His spirit.
It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.) These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five poundsof perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before.
And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passoverand since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
*Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
**Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.
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